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The scene in which Cedric delivers the famous line.[1]

 "Graham, watch out! A pOIsonous snake!"

Cedric the Owl

King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder is the fifth installment in the King's Quest Adventure Game series.

While Graham is out for a walk, his castle and family are kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Mordack. Cedric, a talking owl and witness to the event, tells Graham about it and takes him to the land of Serenia; Graham must explore the kingdom and reach Mordack's castle before the wizard harms his family.

The game is notable for several reasons: It was the first game of the series to use a point-and-click interface, ditching the old Text Parser. It also used a brand-new iteration of the SCI engine, allowing for more complex graphics and cut-scenes, and it was Sierra's first "talkie" game. These factors helped make it the first Sierra game to sell over 500,000 copies, and it was the best-selling PC game of all time from 1990 until 1995, when it was usurped by Myst.

On the downside, the voice acting is sub-par, often managing to be the vocal equivalent of Dull Surprise having been done entirely by Sierra staff members (although it introduced the designer Josh Mandel as King Graham, who has become the definitive voice of the character in many fans' opinion), and many of the puzzles are maddeningly difficult or nonsensical, leading to many potentially Unwinnable situations. And of course, there's the much reviled Cedric the Owl, whose very mention still causes fans to froth at the mouth. Let's just say it hasn't aged well.

Paw Dugan of Transmission Awesome did a hilarious Let's Play of the game, which is available at TGWTG or on YouTube. Retsupurae also gave the game their usual treatment, which can be watched here.


This game provides pOIsonous examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Trope Namers, although not an example of the trope.
  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: "Graham, watch out! A POIsonous snake!"
  • Androcles' Lion: Essentially every animal early in the game (the ants, the bees, the rat, the eagle...)
  • Avenging the Villain: Mordack didn't take too kindly to Alexander turning Mordack's brother into a cat two games ago.
  • Badass Grandpa: Though Graham isn't actually a grandfather, his age is quite evident in the game. Nonetheless, he goes mountain-climbing, desert-scavenging, and into dangerous castles. Provides a Continuity Nod with the previous game, when the fruit that Rosella gave him didn't just save his life, but made him feel much younger than he actually is.
  • Baleful Polymorph: If you go more than one screen into the swamp without proper protection, the witch turns you into a frog. Time to restore!
    • The plot is also kicked off due to Alexander permanently trapping Mordack's brother as a cat.
  • Beard of Evil: Mordack.
  • Big Bad: Mordack, brother of Manannan, the Big Bad of King's Quest III to Heir Is Human.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: You defeat a Yeti in the Ice Kingdom with a pie. Yuuuuup.
  • Border Patrol: Go off-course while on the boat and a sea serpent will show up and eat you.
  • Boring Return Journey: You have to cross the mountains and sail the sea to reach Mordack's island. After you defeat Mordack, Crispin just teleports you and your family home.
  • Bound and Gagged: When Graham is caught by the Innkeeper and his goons, he is left tied up in the cellar. Becomes Unwinnable if you didn't save the mouse who comes to chew through your ropes.
  • Bowdlerise: Nintendo of America worked hard to modify the game for an NES adaptation by toning down the violence and nudity and removing religious themes. For example, compare the narrator's words when Graham drinks water from the oasis in both the PC and NES versions:

 PC!King's Quest V: Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.

NES!King's Quest V: Ah! The cool water felt wonderful on Graham's parched lips and his body now feels rejuvenated.

  • Camp Gay: The tailor.
  • Captain Obvious: Crispin and (more infamously) Cedric love to point out the evident.
    • "Oh, Graham, that dog looks mean! That swamp looks dangerous! That desert looks hot! That sea looks endless! Those harpies look evil! That castle looks scary! That boat is sinking! THAT SNAKE IS POISONOUS!"
    • Also, the narrator when pointing at certain objects.
  • Cartoon Creature: Mordack turns himself in a scorpion-like, winged "Flying Being" for the final battle. Who apparently hates tigers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Crispin's wand, which is not useful until the big fight at the end
  • Cool Old Guy: Graham himself (his age is indicated by his hair turning grey).
  • Copy Protection: The early diskettes and the NES adaptation are examples of this, when the player has to refer to the manual in order to have Graham cast a spell. Averted in the CD-ROM adaptation.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Cedric.
  • Creator Cameo: Roberta Williams does the voices of the woman in Serenia, one of the Harpies, a rat, and the pie shop's customer Amanda.
    • The latter doubles as a Contest Winner Cameo when Amanda, along with her son Austin (voiced by Kevin Orcutt), is named after two contestants chosen as the winners in the "Be a Character in King's Quest V" contest in Inter Action Magazine. Entrants had to submit photos of themselves in outfits that would fit into the King's Quest world -- those costumes are exactly what the characters are wearing.
  • Cutscene: There are unskippable ones all over the place, which makes the prerequisite Save Scumming rather annoying.
    • In later versions, they're not unskippable; you have a choice to "Watch it" or "Skip it"; in the first version. you only get to skip the intro. And you get a warning to the effect of "This cartoon contains information that may be important later. If you decide to skip, check your inventory."
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: You need to win the favor of Queen Icebella to advance in the game.
  • Deus Ex Machina: A remarkably clear example. Once you've defeated Mordack, Crispin magically appears, undoes the shrinking spell on your family, resurrects Cedric (at least in the PC CD-ROM version; all other versions, including the NES adaptation, have Crispin restore him from stone back to flesh and blood), and teleports you, your family and Princess Cassima to your respective homes.

 Crispin: "Have no fear, Graham. There's Deus ex Machinas enough for all!"

  • Did Not Do the Research: Of their own series, no less. Manannan, the bad guy from King's Quest III, appears, but his name is consistently misspelled in this game and any adaptation except the NES adaptation.
  • Drop in Nemesis: Doing the endgame, Mordack can, at any time you enter a room, randomly appear out of the blue and kill you for trespassing in his castle. Hopefully you have learned to frequently save your game at this point. There ARE triggers for this. Good luck figuring out what you did wrong, though.
  • Ear Trumpet: Graham encounters an old hermit that uses a conch seashell as one. Without it the only thing he can hear is the incredibly loud bell he has hanging outside his door.
  • Endless Corridor: The desert; the sea, but less so.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Because they punch you in the face!
  • Evil Sorcerer: Mordack. And the witch. And the ice queen. The last one, however, can make a Heel Face Turn.
  • Freeing the Genie/Genie in a Bottle: The freeing has a twist to it that will be familiar to those who've read the Arabian Nights tale "The Fisherman and the Genie"
  • Giant Flyer: The roc.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The two monsters in Mordack's castle, which you must defeat with the Tambourine (the one monster in the dungeons, who is called Dink) and the sack of peas for the latter.
  • Gratuitous German: The toymaker speaks a bit of German in the CD-ROM adaptation.
  • Guide Dang It: Pretty much every single puzzle.
  • Harping on About Harpies
  • Have a Nice Death: Among them, "Dying for a drink, Graham?"
    • At least you have enough time to brush up on your tiddlywinks!
    • Unfortunately, it looks like the writers got lazy for this game, as quite a few deaths near the end just give you a generic "Thanks for playing King's Quest V" message.
  • Jackass Genie: You free the genie and he rewards you by imprisoning you in the lamp for 500 years. Restore, Restart, Quit? Of course, you can use this knowledge to your benefit...
  • Leitmotif: Cassima's theme is reprised in King's Quest VI Heir Today Gone Tomorrow as "Girl in the Tower"
  • Let's Play: Done by Paw of That Guy With The Glasses, complete with an excellent ending that mocks the game in real life.
  • The Load: Cedric does absolutely nothing of any worth throughout the game (other than warning you about the POOOOOOOOOOISONOUS snake and other hazards you can clearly see on your own, sometimes when it's too late to do anything about them,) and at a few points even has to be rescued.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Get ready to save every time you enter a new room in Mordack's castle, because there's a random chance that he'll just suddenly teleport in and force choke you to death.
  • The Maze: There are two.
    • The desert: If you walk more than five screens without drinking water, you die. There are three oases, and three screens you have to visit, and the only way to find them is by wandering. The desert is possible to navigate, but only if you make up your own map.
      • Oh, and if you try to go past the border of the map (which you'll have no idea where it is until it happens,) a scorpion will instantly kill you.
    • The dungeon is Mordack's castle, which is a labyrinth where the screen's orientation changes depending on which direction you come from. Argh argh argh argh argh!
  • Meaningful Name: Crossed with Incredibly Lame Pun-- Queen Beatrice of the Bees, King Antony of the Ants, and probably the worst of the lot-- Queen Icebella. Ouch.
  • Mercy Rewarded: At one point, you have the option of leaving Cedric to die on an island. At this point, it is very tempting to just leave him there. Of course, if you do, you get a Game Over later in the game.
    • The same thing goes with feeding the eagle half your meat and rescuing the mouse from the cat. The game just seems to like this trope.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Quick, what tool should you use to defeat a Yeti? A hammer? A lute? A, uh, broken wand? Duh! Isn't it obvious? A custard pie!
    • Also, getting rid of the snake. How do you do it? With a tambourine!
    • Also also, how to you power up a machine that transfers wand energy? Why, with a rotten piece of cheese! What else?
    • Less zany, but there's the entirely counter-intuitive role of the cobbler and toymaker in the town - in order to progress you have to give them shoes and a toy respectively!
      • It makes sense if you talked to them beforehand, however. The cobbler is very poor and has no shoes left to sell nor material to make new ones (and if you think of the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves...), and the toymaker said he'll trade for the sled Graham expressed interest in.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Much of the omnipresent narrator's commentary, paradoxically combined with Dull Surprise.
    • When Graham takes a drink: "Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.".
    • "The pouch is empty!" The narrator is completely shocked by this each and every time, even though we've already seen Graham take out what was in it.
    • Lampshaded by Paw in his "Let's Play", when he hears a cartoony sound effect made when the blue alien slips and falls on the peas on the floor.

 Paw: "Oh, it had to play The Flintstones sound. Like it wasn't stupid enough!"

  • Nice Birdie: Graham says this just as the roc hatchling is about to eat him. Of course, the death is averted if he gave the remaining meat to an eagle and grabbed the pendant on the roc's nest before the egg hatched.
  • Only Idiots May Pass: You'd think that getting caught in Mordack's castle and taken to prison would be something you'd want to avoid... You'd be gravely mistaken! Earlier, Graham had to get locked up by an uncouth innkeeper, too.
  • Open Sesame: It's even the password.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Graham's normally a decent person, but he has a bit of a Jerkass moment when he traps an elf, who has done nothing to him, mind you. The elf begs him to let him go, and Graham just says "Why should I do that? What will you do for me?" Maybe Graham's just becoming Genre Savvy?
  • The Owl-Knowing One: The premise behind Cedric was he'd serve as an adviser and helpful informant to the player. It... didn't work out that way. Cedric does something useful for you precisely once, at the very end of the game. (See Unwinnable and Video Game Cruelty Punishment below.)
  • Pie in the Face: How you defeat the Yeti. Yes, really.
  • Pixel Hunt: The moldy cheese. THE MOLDY CHEESE.
    • Furthermore - the old shoe. The necklace. The piece of crystal. Pixel hunts are all over the place. Sort of justified, as this was Sierra's first point-and-click adventure and their first VGA, higher-definition game as well. They figured they could use the same tactics they'd used in the past, not realizing that if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for, you rarely had a way of seeing it.
  • Point of No Return: Once you're beyond the sledding ridge you'd better pray you have everything you need, because you can't go back. Also, when you're sent to the dungeon, you better get that cheese first time around, because otherwise you are screwed.
    • These are also all over the place. Another example would be that you can't go more than one screen into the forest without finding yourself trapped, so you'd better have the requisite items at the time. Of course, each of these situations has the opportunity of making an item Lost Forever.
  • Pungeon Master: The voiceover narrator.

 "The old witch caught you toadally unexpected."

"Dying for a drink, Graham?"

  • Save Scumming: There are some puzzles that you will never figure out unless you die by them first. The genie in the bottle springs to mind. The desert, too. The final battle, as well.
  • Scary Scorpions: They show up in the desert from time to time; and their (pOIsonous) sting kills Graham instantly, so you want to avoid them at all cost.
  • Schmuck Bait: The organ in Mordack's castle is probably the most apparent. Play it, and you'll immediately alert the wizard to your presence. Have a Nice Death.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Genie, and presumably the witch after being defeated.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: The finale.
  • Shout-Out: The desert temple is one big 'hello' to Indiana Jones. Except the action, that is.
  • Sssssnaketalk: If you click the "Talk" icon on the (pOIsonous) snake, it tells you to "Sssssstay back!" Also, Mordack's snake form in the final battle.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The entire first half of the game. What is Graham's incentive for exploring the desert or the dark forest considering that he needs to travel through the mountains?
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: At the start of the game, Crispin has Graham eat a piece of white snake (no, not Whitesnake) that allows him to speak with animals.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Cedric the Owl.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Unlike in the earlier games in the series, Graham can no longer swim.
  • Taken for Granite: Cedric, via Mordack's weakened wand magic, near the end of the PC version and any other adaptation except the PC CD-ROM adaptation (where he just gets killed). Of course, if you didn't save Cedric from the harpies, you'll end up in this example too. In either game console version either way, he is the only reason for...
    • Taking the Bullet: The only, only useful thing Cedric does in the entire game and its adaptations is serve as your meat shield in the climatic battle, and even then it's only by accident.
  • Talking Animal: Justified in that Crispin gives Graham some white snake to eat so he can communicate with animals.
    • Manannan isn't very chatty in the cutscenes with Mordack. If you run across him in Mordack's castle, however, he'll sound the alarm with a human voice.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the more ridiculous examples in the series. To get to Mordack's castle, Graham must go through the mountains. The mountain path is blocked by a (pOIsonous!) snake. It's not until you've played half the game that you find a way to get the snake out of the way so you can go find your family. Graham, sweetie, WHY DON'T YOU JUST KILL THE SNAKE?!
    • Why, because it's a pOIsonous snake, of course!
      • Graham lacks any weapons to kill the snake with. This is also (unintentional) Fridge Brilliance, as last time Graham encountered a snake blocking his path, it was actually a transformed Pegasus, vital to his mission.
    • Even more glaring considering Graham kills Mordack later in the game. And kills a yeti. And a witch, too (although not technically, as she is doomed to a Fate Worse Than Death).
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: In the final battle, Mordack will eventually turn into a dragon and you have the chance of turning into a tiger. But you'll get roasted.
    • Would you believe bunny beats dragon?! Me neither.
  • Timed Mission: Several actions give you only a few seconds to complete, such as throwing the shoe at the cat.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: Normally rubbing a lamp and getting a genie is a good thing; not so much this time. Not like you have any way of knowing beforehand without a guide. There's also the hole in the boat that is completely undetectable until you're already sinking. To say nothing of the Moon Logic Puzzles mentioned above.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: The final battle.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: The cursed willow-tree princess doesn't even bother to speak to Graham after he returns her to human form, let alone thank him for it or offer him a reward. The only reason Graham gets her magical harp is because she callously throws it aside before wandering off with her just-arrived boyfriend.

  Paw Dugan: "You're welcome, you ungrateful biiiiiiiiiiiiitch!"

  • Unwinnable: Many situations: If you eat the pie, you die. If you enter the dark forest without the bottle, the amulet, and the honeycomb, you die. If you don't save the rat, you die. If you don't save Cedric, you die. If you don't get the cheese, you die. If you don't grab the necklace in the Roc's nest in the three seconds you have between being eaten and getting rescued -- you die. But in all these cases, you only die looooong after you made the initial action. Hope you didn't overwrite your saves!
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Sure, you can leave Cedric to die on the island, but you'll pay for it later...
  • Violation of Common Sense: Early to advance in the game, you must go through a huge, hot, deadly desert with NO provisions whatsoever.
  • Waiting Puzzle: In Mordack's castle, you have to hang out in his library until he goes to bed so you can steal his wand while he's asleep.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Queen Icebella, a Captain Ersatz of Andersen's Snow Queen.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Graham says this pretty much word-for-word to Cedric after being rescued from a roc's nest by an eagle... although, given that they'd both been imprisoned by an ice queen and her wolf lords, why Graham thought that would be so incredible is anyone's guess.

The Abridged Series provides pOIsonous examples of:

 Mordack: "You big meanie, Graham! Your son Alexander turned my brother Manannan into a cat! What did he do to deserve that? Other than enslaving a series of boys and killing them before they could grow strong enough to oppose him!?"

 Mordack: "I love to steal castles and shrink families in the morning... because that's what I'm doing now!"

 Cedric: "Watch your money around the gypsies, Graham! They come from far away and wear weird clothes!"

Graham: (with a close-up of Cedric) "Look who's talking, Cedric!"

  • Improbable Weapon User: Graham seriously thinks that Mordack's kitchen is actually his armoury. Why else would he leave those deadly peas lying around?
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Apparently Harpies like harps. And also when Graham dispatches the blue monster in Mordack's castle.

 Graham: "It's time to give peas a chance!!"

 Manannan: "I'll have my revenge, Graham! You'll see! One day, I'll pee in your shoes!!"

 Graham: "Cedric! Fetch me the snake-repealling tambourine!"


 "Look out, troper! A pOIsonous index!"

Notes

  1. It's a pOIsonous picture!
  2. which was made specifically for them to comment over
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